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Monday, 21 May 2012
Page: 4751

Member for Dobell


Mr PYNE (SturtManager of Opposition Business) (14:42): My question is to the Acting Prime Minister. Does the Acting Prime Minister agree with the Prime Minister that it is not appropriate for the member for Dobell to participate in the Labor caucus but it is still appropriate for the government to accept his vote in the parliament?


Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:42): The fact is that those opposite want to turn this parliament into a kangaroo court. There are two very important principles at stake here. One is the presumption of innocence and the other is the separation of powers. Somehow those opposite want to say that this parliament should be making definitive judgments, not the courts of law. That is the proposition that goes to the very core of the question that has been put by the Manager of Opposition Business. They want to turn the parliament into a kangaroo court for their own political purposes, because there is no institution, there is no principle, that this Leader of the Opposition will not trash.

This is not a consistent position from those opposite. We have already heard some words from a number on the cross bench here about how it is important to have the separation of powers in the parliament—that the parliament should not become a kangaroo court—but someone else has said something pretty telling about this. Of course, that was the current Leader of the Opposition, in a debate in this parliament back in 2007, when one member for parliament, the member for Bowman, was the subject of very serious allegations. The member for Bowman was the subject of serious allegations, and this is what the then Leader of the Opposition said.

Ms O'Dwyer interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Higgins is treading on thin ice.

Mr SWAN: He said:

The matter is really now before the police and perhaps the Criminal and Misconduct Commission in Queensland, and let's let those authorities make their investigations and come to any conclusion.

He's a backbench member of parliament and I think he's entitled to stay in the parliament until these bodies have come to their conclusions.

That is what he said when we were dealing for the member for Bowman and a couple of others who had very serious charges against them, as well. So the tune has changed somewhat since 2007. What is really different here is that this speaks volumes about the modern Liberal Party.

Mr Pyne: Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order: the question was about why the member for Dobell is not in the caucus but is in the parliament. The Treasurer is making no attempt to answer that.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Acting Prime Minister has the call and will return to the question.

Mr SWAN: I take these issues very seriously. The government takes these issues very seriously. But at a time when we have economic volatility in Europe and a time when Australia is on the cusp of fantastic opportunities, what are those opposite doing in the parliament? They are getting out the mud bucket! That is what they are doing! They are not in here talking about the big issues that Australians want them to talk about. This Leader of the Opposition has got the mud bucket out, because this Leader of the Opposition is always about confrontation. For him, his leadership is the political equivalent of 'bringing back the biff'. The problem with that is that when you bring back the biff, people get hurt. We understand on this side of the House how important it is to respect the separation of powers, to respect the fact that when people have a charge against them they are entitled to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. But not in the modern Liberal Party. They have taken the wrecking ball to any convention— (Time expired)

Ms Julie Bishop interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will not abuse points of order.